Delaware Hayes High School boys soccer coach Nate Weakland realizes that his team's schedule will get more difficult, but he likes the way the Pacers played in their first three contests.

Delaware Hayes High School boys soccer coach Nate Weakland realizes that his team's schedule will get more difficult, but he likes the way the Pacers played in their first three contests.

Delaware was 2-1 overall before playing DeSales on Aug. 30 and opened OCC-Capital Division play with a 4-0 win over host Watkins Memorial on Aug. 28.

"Winning our league opener is huge for us and should boost our confidence," Weakland said. "They beat us 2-0 last year and the boys kind of remembered that. Plus, our schedule changed and we didn't open (the league) against Franklin Heights, so this win does more for us than beating (Franklin Heights) in the opener last year."

Senior co-captains Nate Spahr and Phoenix Neitzelt led the way against Watkins Memorial. Spahr converted a penalty kick with 22 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the first half and then scored off an assist by Neitzelt to make it 2-0 early in the second half. The Warriors were limited to one prime scoring chance the rest of the way.

"We created so many chances," Weakland said. "It was just a good night and I think things are coming together well.

"Nate's second goal was brilliant. He made a run we've been working on in practice for years. Phoenix got a great feed and Nate finished it and it was a huge goal for us. Those two kept their composure and are doing what we're asking them to do as seniors."

The speed and defensive tenacity of junior forward Ridge Snyder also stood out.

"Ridge is fantastic. He just never slows down," Weakland said. "It's just fun to watch them all play together and put the pieces together. I hope it's like this all season."

"I just want to play all-out," Snyder said. "The harder I play, the better I feel. I want to play intense at all times and I do think when teammates see you do that, they all pick up their intensity. We're playing for one another."

The Pacers secured the outcome against Watkins Memorial late in the game, as Neitzelt scored with 3:03 left and Jordan Carlson scored off a direct kick from just outside of the top of the box in the final seconds.

"Phoenix made a nice move around a defender and buried it back post," Weakland said. "Clay Sparks and Phoenix are doing a great job playing simple two-touch ball and playing great defensively. They're also distributing well. We have enough experience and size to bottle things up and then Jordan Carlson stops everybody else."

Tommy Gibbs had six saves for the Pacers, who outshot Watkins Memorial 21-9.

Football team opens with win over Barons

The football team was hoping to carry the momentum it gained from an opening 35-23 win over host Buckeye Valley on Aug. 24 through the non-league portion of its schedule.

The Pacers, who played Canal Winchester on Aug. 31, close non-league play Friday, Sept. 7, at Dublin Jerome.

It will be the first meeting between Delaware and Jerome, which lost to Dublin Coffman 48-6 in its opener Aug. 24.

The Celtics, who played Beechcroft on Aug. 31, are led by senior running back Donovan Wilson, a Georgia Tech recruit. Wilson rushed for 1,345 yards and 16 touchdowns on 235 carries last season and was named second-team all-district in Division I. He had 107 yards on 26 carries against Coffman.

"They obviously have a difference-maker in Wilson," coach Zebb Schroeder said. "That kid has what you can't coach."

Jerome, which finished 4-6 last season, avoided being shut out by Coffman when junior quarterback Jake King connected with senior receiver Mitchell Keller on a 29-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

"Their coach, Mark Hundley, runs a first-class program and they traditionally have a solid, disciplined defense," Schroeder said. "It will be a challenge for us, but we want to see how we stack up against teams from other OCC divisions as we prepare to play the upper echelon teams in (the OCC-Capital)."

The Pacers trailed Buckeye Valley 13-0 after the first quarter, as Caleb Green ran for a 75-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage and the Barons drove 75 yards on nine plays for a touchdown on their second possession.

However, Delaware's defense stiffened and the offense erupted for 20 points in the second quarter.

Running back Taylor Adair ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns (2, 1 and 4 yards) on 27 carries and quarterback Alex Rafeld threw touchdown passes to Jante Wright (9 yards) and Caleb Howell (21 yards). Wright also had a pair of two-point conversions, running for one and catching a pass from Rafeld for the other.

Rafeld was 16-for-21 passing for 237 yards, with Howell caching 11 passes for 201 yards.

"Alex had a great game and he has that ability," Schroeder said. "He's got a strong arm when he's balanced and using good footwork. Plus, he's making good decisions and putting the ball in tight windows.

"Caleb was outstanding all game. He's fast, runs good routes and has good hands. We opened the passing game up a bit in the second and third quarters because they were loading the box with seven and eight guys to stop Taylor. Still, Taylor had some nice runs early and was solid catching the ball out of the backfield as well."

Schroeder also was pleased with the play of the offensive line, noting that Rafeld was not sacked.

Defensively, Howell, Wright and Ray Simpson each had an interception as the Pacers forced four turnovers without yielding one. Senior defensive end Stone Banks-Herrell, who did not play last season, had 11 tackles.

"He was all over the place and his hits pack a punch," Schroeder said of Banks-Herrell. "He's undersized for an end, but he's explosive and he's a tough assignment for an offensive tackle. We pressured their quarterback (Caleb Green) all game and it wore him down some, I think. With us having 10 starters who are new or are playing different positions, I think we played pretty well overall on defense."